February 25 - August 6, 2011
NACHI - between the eternal and the ephemeral -

Solo exhibit at University of Wyoming Art Museum, Laramie, WY


Inspired by my journey to a sacred waterfall "Nachi" in Japan, I created a large-scale multi-media installation in the 2800 sq.ft. gallery space at the University of Wyoming Art Museum in Laramie, Wyoming in 2011.

 

Concept:

Where do our ancestors come from and where we are going? What remains and what is forgotten? Making art is an act of marking our present time that connects both to the past and the future. At the same time, it is a way of understanding who I am on a very personal level. Through my recent journey through Kumano, a sacred region in Japan, I realized that places and beliefs that have been maintained in our society for hundreds if not thousands of years could bring a fresh perspective and timeless understanding to our own beings. It was an eye-opening moment of inspiration that immediately seeded the idea I want to be developed for this exhibition.

The exhibit title “Nachi” is the name of the waterfall in Kumano that is considered to be a shrine itself. For over 1,200 years, people from all levels of society have made the arduous pilgrimage to this site for worship and purification. Kojiki, the oldest extant chronicle in Japan from the early 8th century, tells that the first emperor Jinmu, the mythical founder of Japan, saw something shining in the mountain, found that it was the waterfall, and then enshrined it as a god. 

When I stood in front of this magnificent waterfall, looking up over 400 feet, I imagined that continuous stream of rushing water clearing the minds of the countless people who’ve stood before it to offer their thoughts and prayers. I was overwhelmed by the power of time that this waterfall has witnessed. Then, I realized that this very moment is the ephemeral, and at the same time, the eternal. 

For my solo exhibition, I would like to bring this inspiration into creating a space where visitors can experience silence and be comfortable enough to meditate as they walk through it. Even though the space is within the museum, I would be honored if people feel like they had visited somewhere un-measurable.

 

Exhibition:

This installation is composed of a 123-feet linier length of spiral shaped hanging cotton twine waterfall, video projections (32-minute loop), sound piece (28-minute loop), and six hanging 14 feet long x 4.5 feet wide glass pyrographs (fire drawing by molten glass) on paper. I designed the installation in a way that visitors could walk through within it to experience the created space. Light and shadow played an important role in the installation.

To create the video, I collaborated with three dancers with different ethnic backgrounds. I invited them to my studio individually, discussed my concept of the installation and inspiration behind it, shared ideas and sketches, then asked them to freely improvise their movements within the mocked-up installation where I prepared for the video shoot.

You hear the sound piece that is installed underneath the circular platform. Based on a Japanese traditional garden ornament Suikinkutsu (water koto cave), I made a sound ornament and recorded dripping water echoing in the clay vessels. The edited 28 min piece plays looped in the installation.

In conjunction to the exhibit, I had a residency with the University’s Art and Dance departments. I worked with young dancers and asked them to improvise movements inspired by my work or my words. As a result, I collaborated with 30 students and a sound artist, and presented a performance piece at the opening of the exhibition.

This project was supported by Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts (New York), National Endowment for the Arts (Washington DC), and 4Culture (Seattle). It was curated by Susan B. Moldenhauer, director and chief curator of the museum.

 

NACHI - between the eternal and the ephemeral -
16 h x 50 w x 32 d feet
Glass pyrograph on paper, video, sound, cotton twine, wood
Solo exhibit at University of Wyoming Art Museum, Laramie, WY in 2011

 

> Watch Exhibit Walkthrough

> Listen Suikinkutsu (Full length: 27min 52 sec)

> Listen Suikinkutsu (Excerpt: 38 sec)